2 min read November 2021 — Comcast is a renowned global media and technology company and is one of the largest video, high-speed internet and phone providers in the United States. In an interview with Invest:, Senior Vice President of the Keystone Region Toni Murphy discussed what differentiates the Pittsburgh market and the ways in which Comcast is striving to improve connectivity and accessibility in the region.
What is so special about the Pittsburgh market?
Over the past six years, what I have grown to admire about this city is the world-renowned technology institutions that are here, such as Carnegie Mellon, Pitt and all the tech incubators. Tech is intertwined with the cultural fabric of the city. Pittsburgh is truly one of the best places in the country for tech innovators.
There is also great cooperation between the public and private sectors in implementing big ideas. As a community, we target big issues and then bring a thousand of our closest friends across the 10-county region to solve those issues; you don’t see this happen in every market. Between the great educational systems, thriving medical and tech sectors and the community striving for a better future, this is a special place that I am grateful to call home.
What significant investments has Comcast made in Western Pennsylvania in 2021?
The last 18 months have underscored the importance of broadband accessibility and we sit at the crux of that issue. We’ve made a meaningful commitment to social justice and digital equity, and part of that commitment is Lift Zones, locations where people can get access to the internet free of charge. Over the course of 2021, we have created 100 Lift Zones, with 40 in Western Pennsylvania. This has required a herculean effort across our organization and we’re proud of the impact these places have had on the community.
The work-from-home environment has put a tremendous amount of stress on our network. But today our network reliability is better than ever. We have made significant investments — $15 billion nationwide since 2017 — in improving our infrastructure and network reliability. A good chunk of that has been invested right here in Western Pennsylvania. We have established a great network in Allegheny County but we’ve been prioritizing rural connectivity. We’ve been making sure that more customers in more rural counties, such as Fayette and Somerset, have access to quality internet.
In what other ways is Comcast helping to close the digital divide in the region?
In the Pittsburgh metro area over the last 10 years, we have connected over 200,000 individuals to our Internet Essentials product, which is our $10 product for low-income families. We’ve proactively invested $20 million to extend our network to the furthest reaches of Pittsburgh to make sure everyone has access to broadband. A large area of focus has been making sure the counties surrounding Pittsburgh have equal access to quality connections. Of course, our work isn’t done yet. If it was, this country wouldn’t be having the big discussions we are having in D.C. regarding infrastructure. Across the country, everyone realizes that rural America is the next frontier in achieving ubiquity for access.
How has demand for your services shifted from pre-pandemic levels?
We’ve had a blockbuster year. At every level of our product, from Gig-speed levels to our Internet Essentials product, we have seen extraordinary growth. Customers were looking for increased access during the pandemic and they’re maintaining that increased demand even as people return to work and school.
What are some of the most exciting innovations Comcast is implementing?
This is a company that believes in innovation. We recently announced XClass TV, an exciting moment in the television streaming sector. It includes our voice remote to promote ease of search and accessibility for individuals with differing abilities, an example of how our focus on diversity impacts the whole, with this having become such a popular product. Our company has 20 million hotspots across the country and we’re investing heavily into AI to make sure our networks are smart and diagnosing problems. I could go on and on. The sky’s the limit for this company and I’m so proud of our constant effort to look for ways to improve our game, meet our customers where they are and provide them what they need. Speed is the common denominator, and all our customers here can get 1.2 gigabits per second, but it’s everything around that from an experience level that differentiates Comcast from the rest.
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